Several weeks ago my friends Walter and Ethel Spenser invited me to join them to watch the third round of the John Deere Classic golf tournament. Being an avid golfer myself and having participated in several amateur tournaments in my younger days, I eagerly accepted their offer. The Spensers live outside of Silvis, Il, where the tournament is held. I arrived early Saturday morning, and we drove to the course. After spending some time in the stands on the first tee, we decided to head to the eighteenth green to watch the golfers. I marveled at the ability of these pros to place their shots so accurately. One golfer came with inches of holing a shot from over two hundred yards away. It ended up just short.
Someone once described golf as a good walk spoiled. I agree because of what happened to us. A threesome arrived at the green to finish their round. One of the players held a two stroke lead on the field. He spent five minutes lining up a forty foot putt. The spectators were murmuring in anticipation. Finally, the golfer was ready to putt. The golf marshals held up signs and raised their arms to silence the crowd. The golfer moved into position. We stared at his back. He adjusted his feet just so and took a final look at the path to the hole. Suddenly, he backed away and looked over his shoulder in our direction.
One of the golf marshals moved directly in front of us and pointed to his sign. He asked for quiet, and I nodded. The golfer began his routine again. Once more he backed away, and this time muttered under his breath. The marshal frowned at Walter and Ethel. They stared at him in total silence. Then Ethel asked Walter why the marshal appeared so upset. Walter answered which upset the marshal even more. By now most of the spectators were focusing their attention on us. I heard some snickering from people and saw one of the caddies chuckling.
I’ve told people many times over the years how I thought professional golfers were pampered. Just once I’d love for the spectators at a golf tournament to be allowed to behave as though they were at a hockey game. Hockey fans are the loudest and rowdiest fans in all of sports. Pro golfers can earn millions of dollars and sometimes winning comes down to sinking a crucial putt. I would love to see which golfer can make a ten foot putt with a thousand fans screaming at the top of their lungs at him. Can you imagine going to a football game with 75,000 other people in the stands, and being told to be quiet so Tom Brady can throw a pass to Gronkowski? Ain’t gonna happen. Golfers are athletes. They should be able to shut out the crowd and concentrate on their game. It’s not like eleven other golfers are going to tackle them as soon as they start their swing. If they can make a putt under those circumstances, I’d say they’ve earned their winnings.
But back to the John Deere Classic. The marshal was still upset with Walter and Ethel. The golfer eventually putted and came up fifteen feet short of the hole. He stomped toward his ball and glared at Walter and Ethel. Ethel grinned at Walter and told him she could have made a better approach putt. Walter nodded and replied that he could have made a better putt with his eyes closed. I laughed and shrugged at the marshal who appeared totally bewildered. I guess he didn’t know ASL like the three of us.